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Passing theRetrans Buck

In the latest salvo in the battle between cable
operators and broadcasters over pay for play,
Charter Communications will start itemizing
the price increases it says it has to pass along
to customers because of retransmission consent

On its Website (,
Charter explains to customers that they will
start seeing a “Broadcast TV Surcharge” in the
“taxes and fees” section of their cable bills,
saying that “The prices demanded by local
broadcast TV stations have necessitated that
we pass these costs on to customers.”

Federal law requires cable bills to be “fully
itemized,” including, “but not limited to,” basic,
premium and equipment charges. But the
“taxes and fees” section traditionally features
things like Universal Service Fund contributions,
E911 taxes, sales taxes and other government-
issue obligations.

Charter joined with Time Warner and other
cable and satellite operators earlier this year
to ask the FCC to fix what it called a “broken”
retrans system.

The National Cable & Telecommunications
Association had no comment on Charter’s
decision to break out the charge.